December 27, 2019

In November, Los Angeles-based clean technology leaders announced its Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap 2.0. At the time, Mayor Eric Garcetti called for a 25% reduction in air pollution by 2028. Today the Financial Times is reporting that Los Angeles may now force Uber and Lyft to use electric cars.

Mayor Garcetti said:

“We have the power to regulate car share. We can mandate and are looking closely at mandating that any of those vehicles in the future be electric.”

The city’s 2028 green plan includes purchasing more electric buses, and EVs for the city’s municipal fleet. Electric vehicles would account for 30% of all light-duty passenger vehicles on the road and at least 80% of all vehicles sold. The city may end up deploying America’s first electric fire engine.

Mayor Garcetti’s concept to require rideshare services to use EVs has not yet moved beyond the idea phase. But the LA city council is considering how to exert more control over rideshare services, including by creating a driver-registration program. The state’s Public Utilities Commission currently regulates ride-hailing services in California.

Implementing the EV policy for Uber and Lyft drivers could be tricky. Most drivers own their vehicles.

Regardless, Mayor Garcetti is seeking any means to use city powers to mitigate climate change. He said:

“Local actors, no matter who is in power, are the most critical elements of whether or not we win the fight against climate change. It is local governments and regional governments that regulate or directly control building codes, transportation networks, and electricity generation, which together are 80% of our emissions.”

In June 2018, Uber announced a pilot program providing subsidies for drivers who use electric vehicles. The pilot program, called the EV Champions Initiative, included seven cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, and Montreal.

In the program, drivers accrue a dollar-per-ride bonus for using plug-in hybrids or full battery electric vehicles, with a maximum payout of $20 per week. The incentives were designed to allow drivers to buy an EV. But the program, which was supposed to last for one year, ended without any announcements from Uber.

In September, Uber partnered with EVgo and Powerdot to improve access to EV charging.

And in London, Uber launched a plan to make every car on the Uber app fully electric by 2025. That plan is voluntary. But if other cities follow LA’s lead, Uber and Lyft won’t have a choice. The services would be required to go all-electric to meet broader environmental goals.

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